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As the countdown to summer begins, some are feeling the burn in their wallets as inflation continues to affect everything from gas prices to food. The latest casualty: parents experiencing the sticker shock of summer camp.

Jamie Aderski, a New Jersey mom of two, made a popular video on TikTok that highlighted concerns for parents trying to get their children enrolled in camps and fund them. Aderski said costs have even become too pricey at her neighborhood recreational centers, jumping at least 10% each summer over the past few years. Spots are sometimes taken as early as January.

“It’s something that’s kept me up at night thinking about, ‘Well, what am I gonna do with my kids for the summer?’ And I’ve kind of cobbled together a plan, but it’s still not enough.”

Some experts say the summer camp price hike stems from the pandemic.

“Families that were not engaged in camp before the pandemic are now interested in camp for their children. Every parent realizes now how important it is that kids have a summer learning program,” said Tom Rosenberg, who heads the American Camp Association, a nonprofit that represents about 15,000 camps in the United States. 

The American Camp Association says the average day camp costs around $87 per day, a figure that can vary across the nation. Rosenberg said costs are set for camp a year ahead of time.

“Many industries are impacted by inflation, and camp is no exception,” he said. “Every cost of business that camps have across the board really have gone up substantially.

What can parents do to offset summer camp costs?

Rosenberg offered some tips for parents seeking to enroll their kids in camps. 

Those included:

  • Asking about financial aid, which many camps provide, along with payment plans
  • Seeking a scholarship through a civic organization
  • Looking into the child and dependent care tax credit, which could offset up to $3,000 of summer camp costs per child

Meanwhile, Aderski said she plans to enroll her son in a science camp, keeping it to half days spread throughout the summer.

“Seeing him come home and being excited about something and learning something new, that is of course the ultimate goal for any parent,” she said. “And camp can be a huge part of that experience. I just wish that there were more options available that were for everybody.”

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